How to Set up an International Snail Mail Address

Send and receive mail while traveling internationally

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When I first started traveling, one of my biggest concerns was what I was going to do about mail while I was traveling. I knew that I'd most likely be able to find post offices while I was abroad, and with a bit of research, could most likely communicate enough to get them to their destination, but what about the other way around?

What if I received something important in the mail and wanted to receive it while I was traveling?

I'll give you an example: while I was traveling in the Philippines, my beloved Kindle Paperwhite broke. I use my Kindle on a daily basis when I travel, so I was understandably devastated about the loss. I got on the phone to Amazon and they were happy to send me out a replacement. The only problem was that I was travelling regularly and had no idea how I could possibly receive it, or which address to give them. 

That's when I started researching international mail address for travelers. 

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How International Snail Mail Addresses Work

According to Brian Lempel of USGlobalMail, setting up an international snail mail address is simple: with them you can register a U.S. address, no matter in which country you currently live in or where you'll be traveling, and then choose a service plan. Once you have that address, you can direct all of your mail to that address while you're traveling and then receive it once you're on the road. 

How US Global Mail Forwarding Works

US Global Mail offers two international mail forwarding address plans:

International Shoppers: for $5 per month, you can have your mail shipped to an international address from the U.S. address. For instance, Mom's cookies are perishable -- enter your international destination and choose a fast FedEx option to get them to you. On the road but know you'll be in Sydney in three days? Have your mail sent there instead.

Individual: for $10 per month, choose one fixed international address and US Global Mail sends your mail there at intervals that you set.

Consider the $15 premium account. a disadvantage to the value account: your mail may be forwarded but sit in your one identified place, like Italy, for six months while you're in, say, Iceland. And if your credit card bill is in that mail, you may end up stuck in Iceland after it's cut off for non-payment.

Note: US Global Mail's international snail mail service has a quarter pound minimum price; one letter or five letters to Australia is $2.30, for instance. A 10 pound box sent by FedEx to Australia will be $72.50 USD.

Choosing Your International Snail Mail Address

No matter which mailing service you decide to use, you can't choose your U.S. address; it is set by the service. In US Global Mail's case, your address will be their office building in Houston, Texas (at which they can receive US mail, or packages from companies like FedEx and UPS).

For further information:

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Don't Discount Writing Home

Sometimes there's nothing like a real letter from home, written by a friend or in a family member's familiar handwriting, to conquer a touch of homesickness. And your family feels the same way. While you're traveling, take a day in a cafe and write a letter describing what you're eating or drinking right then to bring your family into your life. You could tell them what you've experienced most recently and how that's changed your life. Those letters with their exotic postage stamp will be saved forever as priceless family mementos.

This article has been edited and updated by Lauren Juliff.

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